Ruff was everyone’s favourite. Three feet tall and four feet long,
sparkling eyes, moist nose, a lovely shade of brown and so cuddly. He was the loveliest German Shepherd anyone had seen.
Ruff went to the park every evening with Tanya and her Grandpa. And all the children would be waiting for him there.
“Ruff’s come!” they would all shout and rush to hug and pat him. Ruff loved
the attention he got.
Very willingly he would take toddler Kanishka on his back for a joy ride. Whenever Rahul hit a six, Ruff would be the “cricketer” to run and fetch the ball.
When Sujata’s cat was lost for the umpteenth time, it was Ruff who found her stuck high up on the branch of the pipal tree.
And who can ever forget the way Ruff once chased the cow out of the park? He was the star of the neighbourhood and everyone loved him – except six-year-old Kabir.
Kabir hated dogs. He was no animal lover. His older sister Meera, was just the opposite. She would have had a dog for a pet but for Kabir.
Dogs can sense who likes them and who doesn’t. Ruff knew that Kabir didn’t like him and he tried hard to be friendly with him. He would run towards the boy to greet him. He would even fetch Kabir’s ball from the thorny bushes, never mind the scratches. But
Kabir remained unaffected. He did not like dogs.
Ruff didn’t like it, but then would get busy playing with the other children.
One day, when all the children were playing at the park, the weather changed all of a sudden. The sky became dark with clouds and a strong breeze began to blow. The children began running towards their homes to escape the rain. Mothers held on
to their toddlers and hurried indoors.
“Ruff let’s get back home. It’ll be pouring soon and we shall get soaked,” said Tanya. Ruff agreed and turned back to join Tanya and Grandpa.
Meera called out for her brother. “Kabir! Kabir!”
The boy was nowhere in sight. Then Meera began to cry.
“What’s up Meera?” asked Tanya.
“I can’t find Kabir. He was right here playing cricket with his friends.
All his friends have run home but he is missing,” cried Meera.
Just then big drops of rain fell on them. Within seconds it started pouring. They all hurried to take shelter under the large tree in the park. Tears, and not raindrops, were running down Meera’s face.
“Don’t worry Meera. I’m sure he must be taking shelter under some
tree,” Grandpa comforted her. “Why don’t you run home and call someone?”
The rain thickened and soon the water started pouring through the branches. Grandpa asked Tanya to take Ruff home while he waited for Meera’s father to come. Just at that moment, Tanya sneezed. “There you are!” added Grandpa.
Tanya started running towards her house. Ruff followed her for a short
distance and then returned to Grandpa.
“Why are you back, Ruff? Go home.” But Ruff refused to go back. He just
stood next to Grandpa.
Meera’s father came in no time. He was wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella
under his arm.
“Please get under this,” he told Grandpa. “Can’t see Kabir,” he added.
“Don’t worry. Maybe he strayed to the far end of the park. He must be waiting for the rain to stop,” Grandpa suggested.
Meera’s father said he would cross the road and check the other end of the park but asked Grandpa to go home and change out of his wet clothes.
Grandpa started walking back but Ruff refused to move. “Woof -woof” he barked.
“You want to stay and help find Kabir?” asked Grandpa.
“Woof” was the answer.
“Alright Ruff. All the best.” said Grandpa.” Get back home as soon as the
job is done.”
Off went Ruff with Kabir’s father. They checked all over the park, but Kabir was nowhere in sight. The rain had worsened and the street lights weren’t bright enough. His father began to get worried.
“I think we should check that bushy, abandoned area Ruff.”
“Woof woof,” was Ruff’s reply and he dashed ahead. The path was so
uneven and dark that it slowed down Kabir’s father. Soon, he was left far behind by Ruff.
Suddenly, the German Shepherd heard a sound. He let out a loud bark and ran in that
direction, sniffing hard. Yes, there was someone there. He could hear Kabir’s father calling out for him, but Ruff didn’t stop. He went on and on, faster and faster.
And suddenly he let out a big yelp. There was Kabir, huddled under a tree and sobbing his heart out. Ruff took a large leap to land near Kabir and started licking his arm.
“Ruff,” said Kabir softly, between his sobs. “Take me home.” Ruff started barking very loudly. Within minutes Kabir’s father reached there and took a very scared Kabir in his arms.
“We’ll talk about it once we reach home Kabir,” his father interrupted him.
Slowly they made their way back home. It was still raining hard. There was a big welcome party waiting for Kabir: his mother and sister, and Grandpa.
“What happened?” asked Kabir’s mother. “Where were you Kabir? We were all so worried.”
“Yes, now tell us what you were doing in that mini forest son. That’s no place for anyone to be in.” his father added.
“I thought I’d go and quickly get my little bag of marbles that Meera had thrown there,” said Kabir sheepishly. “But they weren’t there. And it suddenly became dark and started raining heavily. I simply couldn’t find my way back.”
“That was just a joke Kabir. I never threw your marbles there. I’ve hidden them in my drawer,” said Meera.
“You mean it was a joke?” Kabir looked angrily at Meera.
“We’ll sort that out later.” their father intervened.” Right now let’s have something hot to drink. And something very special for Ruff, for he’s the one who found Kabir.”
Kabir nodded and Ruff as always let out a woof. Kabir patted Ruff and drew him closer. Ruff smiled with his eyes and knew that this was the beginning of a very special friendship.